David Levi Strauss
[Writer and critic, b. 1953, Junction City, Kansas, lives in New York.]

 Photographic images used to be about the trace. Digital images are about the flow. 
 The first question must always be: Who is using this photograph, and to what end? 
 It’s not that we mistake photographs for reality; we prefer them to reality. 
 Images online are both more ephemeral (in form) and more substantial (in number). They flicker across our eyes and jitter through our minds at incredible speeds. We spend more time collecting and sorting images, but less time looking at any one of them. One can never step into the same data-stream twice. 
 Access to images and information has certainly increased, but has this led to better informed citizens? No. It has led to more docile, who spend more of their time collecting images and information… and less time on analysis, critical thinking, or real “socializing.” 
 The attack on New York’s Twin Towers was the most photographed event in history. It was clearly planned and executed to maximize imaging. The delay between the two crashes seemed calculated to allow cameras—in what is arguably the most densely camera-rich environment in the world—to turn en masse toward the towers like a field of phototropic sunflowers. 
 The idea that the more transformed or ‘aestheticized’ an image is, the less ‘authentic’ or valuable it becomes, is one that needs to be seriously questioned. Why can’t beauty be a call to action? 
 Photographs by themselves certainly cannot tell ‘the whole truth’—they are only instants. 
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